Wednesday, May 23, 2012

R.I.P. - Spc. Arronn D. Fields

DOD Identifies Army Casualty

            The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

            Spc. Arronn D. Fields, 27, of Terre Haute, Ind., died May 21 in Qal-ah-ye Mirza Jal, Afghanistan, of injuries suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with rocket propelled grenades.  He was assigned to the 81st Troop Command, Indiana National Guard, Indianapolis, Ind.

            For more information the media may contact the Indiana National Guard, Maj. Shawn Gardner by telephone at 317-247-3222 (office), 317-407-7065 (cell) or Staff Sgt. Les Newport 317-247-3222 (office), 317-538-8414 (cell).

fron indystar:

At 8 a.m. Monday, Arronn David Fields grabbed a break in the war in Afghanistan to call his mom at home, in Knightsville.

He told her he'd be coming home on leave in August. He'd see her then. Normal chitchat. Then he had to go -- his unit was going out on patrol.

Hours later, the 27-year-old specialist in the Indiana National Guard was fatally wounded during a rocket-propelled grenade attack in Qal-ah-ye Mirza Jal.

About midnight, the phone rang again at the home of his mother and stepfather, Jackie and Bill Pilkin, bringing the toll of war directly into their home.

Now, they wait to hear from the military about when their son's body will make the trip back.

Fields, the youngest of three siblings, attended Ivy Tech Community College and tried a few jobs after graduating in 2003 from Northview High School in Brazil. But he always seemed to be destined to join the military, said Bill Pilkin, an Air Force veteran.

"I think he always wanted to be a soldier," he said by telephone from his Clay County home. "And he was gung-ho as a security policeman. That's what he wanted to do."

Fields enlisted in 2006 and was serving with the 381st Military Police Company, 81st Troop Command, as part of Task Force Guardian, a multiunit military police force from Indiana. He deployed to Afghanistan in January and had served a one-year tour in Iraq in 2010, Pilkin said.

Fields had decided to make the military his career, Pilkin said.

Soft-spoken and outdoorsy, Fields loved fishing and working on his classic cars -- a 1969 Mustang and a 1973 Plymouth Challenger. In the summer, Pilkin said, Fields was all about fishing, but when it got cold, his stepson headed to the garage to work on the cars.

He was self-taught and kept adding to his skills and knowledge since getting his driver's license, often consulting with a friend who is a mechanic and then applying what he'd learned to those old cars, Pilkin said.

After his year in Iraq, he asked to be stationed in Afghanistan, Pilkin said. The family was aware of the danger and fearful for him.

"He and his mother talked about it, and he just told her that's what he wanted to do," Pilkin said.

"He loved his family, he loved his country, and he loved his God," Pilkin said. "And he was willing to pay the ultimate sacrifice for other people."

Funeral arrangements are pending the return of his body to Dover, Del., and then Indiana.

He is the second Indiana soldier to die in Afghanistan in less than a week.

Army Sgt. JaBraun Knox, 23, Auburn, died Friday when an enemy rocket hit an area where extra shells were stored, according to his family.

Call Star reporter Diana Penner at (317) 444-6249.
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Afghan girls poisoned in second anti-school attack

Districts of Takhar Province
Districts of Takhar Province (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

(Reuters) - More than 120 schoolgirls and three teachers have been poisoned in the second attack in as many months blamed on conservative radicals in the country's north, Afghan police and education officials said on Wednesday.

The attack occurred in Takhar province where police said that radicals opposed to education of women and girls had used an unidentified toxic powder to contaminate the air in classrooms. Scores of students were left unconscious.

Afghanistan's intelligence agency, the National Directorate of Security (NDS), says the Taliban appear intent on closing schools ahead of a 2014 withdrawal by foreign combat troops.

"A part of their Al Farooq spring offensive operation is ... to close schools. By poisoning girls they want to create fear. They try to make families not send their children to school," NDS spokesman Lutfullah Mashal said.

Afghanistan's Ministry of Education said last week that 550 schools in 11 provinces where the Taliban have strong support had been closed down by insurgents.

Last month, 150 schoolgirls were poisoned in Takhar province after they drank contaminated water.
Since 2001 when the Taliban were toppled from power by U.S.-backed Afghan forces, females have returned to schools, especially in the capital Kabul. They were previously banned from work and education.

But there are still periodic attacks against students, teachers and school buildings, usually in the more conservative south and east of the country, from where the Taliban insurgency draws most of its support.

(Reporting by Mohammad Hamid in Taliqan and Mirwais Harooni in Kabul; Editing by Rob Taylor and Jeremy Laurence)

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Statement from ISAF Commander following NATO Summit in Chicago

WASHINGTON (May 22, 2012) — Following the conclusion of the ISAF session at the NATO Summit in Chicago yesterday, Gen. John R. Allen, commander of the International Security Assistance Force has released the following statement:

I am grateful for the overwhelming commitment from the international community to support Afghanistan through 2014 and beyond. I was proud to join in the NATO Summit in Chicago that sent three unmistakable messages to the world:

• To the Afghan people: we are committed to your future,
• To the Region: the international community will not abandon Afghanistan; and
• To the Taliban: you cannot wait us out.

Among the important outcomes of this event was the resounding commitment by the ISAF partner nations for the long term support of an Afghan National Security Force that is sufficient, capable, and sustainable in the post-2014 period.

This historic summit took place at a time of considerable operational progress in our shared campaign. Because of the extraordinary courage and skill of our ISAF coalition partners, and the Afghan National Security Force’s fighting men and women, this spring and summer, the insurgents have come back to find that many of their caches are empty; their former strongholds are untenable; and a good many of their foot soldiers absent or unwilling to join the fight. And, most importantly, insurgents are facing a battle-tested and increasingly capable Afghan National Security Force that is also serving as a source of pride to the Afghan people and a symbol of unity for this country.

During the last 12 months, the Afghan security forces have expanded from 276,000 to 340,000. They will reach their full surge strength ahead of the scheduled deadline in October. Additionally, Afghan forces are increasingly in the lead throughout the battle space, and the Afghans were in the lead for planning of this year’s campaign plan, Operation Naweed.

The expansion and professionalization of Afghan security forces now allow us to recover the remaining 23,000 U.S. surge troops by this fall, enable us to continue to pressure the Taliban to reintegrate and reconcile, and make possible security transition to the Afghans in accordance with our Lisbon commitments – and on time.

President Karzai’s historic announcement of Tranche 3 of the transition process is a significant milestone in our progress. The coming transition of every provincial capital and the Afghan National Security Forces providing security lead for three-quarters of the population marks the ever-increasing authority and capability of the Government of Afghanistan.

This summit, with its unambiguous commitment of long term support for the security of Afghanistan, is the clearest message yet the Taliban and the enemies of the Afghan people will not win this war. The Afghan National Security Forces, with the unwavering support and tangible commitments of the 50-nation coalition, grow stronger every day. Additionally, the Summit was a powerful signal of international support for an Afghan-led process of reconciliation; and in this process resides the greatest hope for the Taliban for the future. In the wake of this historic NATO Summit, as the Taliban see that their time grows short, they can choose to be part of the prosperous future of Afghanistan, but they can never prevail through violence and intimidation.

This campaign has been long, it has been difficult, and it has been costly. But I believe that ISAF’s campaign is on track. I see it every day – tangible evidence of progress. We are making a difference. We are fulfilling the Lisbon Roadmap of Transition, and the international community is standing with the noble Afghan people and Afghanistan now and into the Decade of Transformation.
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Possible car bombing in Kabul thwarted

KABUL (PAN): Five suspected terrorists were held with an explosives-laden vehicle in the heavily-fortified capital Kabul on Wednesday afternoon, the intelligence service said.

Based on a prior tip, intelligence agents seized the men with 560 kilograms of explosives from a mini-van, astatement from the spy agency said.

The “enemies of peace” -- a euphemism for the Taliban -- wanted to conduct a suicide attack on the Kabul airport road, but the National Directorate of Security (NDS) personnel thwarted their plans, the statement added.

from Pajhwok
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15 militants killed, 33 arrested in Afghanistan within 24 hours

KABUL, May 23 (Xinhua) -- A total of 15 Taliban militants have been killed and 33 others arrested as Afghan forces and NATO-led coalition troops launched eight military operations within the past 24 hours, the Afghan Interior Ministry said on Wednesday morning.

"Afghan police, army and NATO-led coalition forces launched eight cleanup operations over the past 24 hours, killing 15 armed Taliban insurgents and detaining 33 others suspected," the ministry said in a statement providing daily operational updates.

The statement said that five other insurgents were injured during the raids conducted in southern Helmand and Zabul and eastern Nangarhar, Ghazni and Khost provinces.

The joint forces also found and seized weapons, the statement said, without saying if there were any casualties on the side of security forces.

However, the Taliban insurgent group, which announced it would launch a spring rebel offensive from May 3 against Afghan and NATO forces, has not make comments yet.

Afghan forces and some 130,000 NATO-led coalition troops have intensified cleanup operations against Taliban and other militant groups throughout the country recently as spring and summer, known as "fighting seasons" draw near.

Over 800 insurgents have been killed and more than 1,450 others detained in the country so far this year, according to the figures released by the Afghan Interior Ministry.
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Laghman: 12 Insurgents and Their Commander Killed in Afghan Forces Operation

At least 12 insurgents, including their commander, were killed in an Afghan security forces operation in eastern Laghman province on Tuesday night, local officials said.

Six others insurgents were wounded in the operation, which is ongoing.

The operation was launched in Alingar district of Laghman province to clear the area of insurgents, a spokesman of the Selab 201 military corps in eastern Afghanistan Noman Atifi said.

During the operation, the local insurgent commander Baryalai was killed and the Afghan forces seized many weapons, he said.

There were no Afghan and civilians casualties during the operation, Atifi added.

Alingar district borders with Nuristan province where insurgents have been actively targeting Afghan and coalition forces.

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Five aid workers kidnapped in Afghanistan

Districts of Badakhshan.
Districts of Badakhshan. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

(Reuters) - Five aid workers, including two Western women doctors, have been kidnapped by unidentified gunmen in northeastern Afghanistan, police and the provincial governor's office said on Wednesday.

The aid workers working for a foreign-based aid group were making their way from central Faizabad city and were abducted on Tuesday in Yaftal-e Bala district, said Abdul Marouf Rasikh, a spokesman for the governor of Badakhshan province.

Police in the area, which is not a focus for Afghan insurgents but which is home to groups of mainly criminal gunmen, said the aid workers had been visiting a health clinic in Yawan district, where the road had been destroyed by floods.

"They were travelling by donkey. Two foreign women and their Afghan translators were kidnapped and we have started a search operation," said Lal Mohammad Ahmadzai, police spokesman for northern Afghanistan.

NATO-led forces said they had no information on the kidnapping, while NGOs operating in the area declined to comment citing the sensitivity of the issue.

The kidnapping of foreigners has become relatively common in parts of Afghanistan since U-S.-backed Afghan forces toppled the former Taliban government in 2001, heralding a 10-year anti-insurgent war.

(Reporting by Rob Taylor; Editing by Nick Macfie)



Two foreign doctors and their three Afghan colleagues were kidnapped in a remote area of northern Afghanistan Tuesday evening, local officials said.

The group, who work for non-government organisation Medair, were stopped by a group of armed men while travelling on horseback between the Yaftali and Ragh districts of the country's furthest north-eastern province of Badakhshan, provincial spokesman Abdul Maroof Rasekh told TOLOnews on Wednesday.

The incident was reported as a kidnapping by the humanitarian organisation, which has not released the names of those believed to be abducted, Rasekh said.

According to a security report, five Medair staff members - two international females and three Afghan males - along with two hired guides were stopped as they left a village in the Yaftali Sufla District by five or six armed men believed to be members of an "armed opposition group" from Shahri Buzorg district.

The report released by the Afghanistan NGO Safety Office (ANSO) said the armed men sent away the two hired horsemen and then moved with the five staff members towards the Dawang area of Shahri Buzorg district.

ANSO said the incident was "an exceptionally strong outlier" for the district, province, and region.

Local police have started a search operation in the two districts, Rasekh said.

No group, including the Taliban, has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping.

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US drones kill 4 'militants' in North Waziristan

The US launched its first drone airstrike inside Pakistan in more than two weeks, killing four "militants" today in an area of Pakistan that has been under Taliban control for eight years.

The CIA-operated, unmanned Predators or the more heavily operated Reapers fired a pair of missiles at a compound in Tabai outside of Miramshah, a stronghold of the Haqqani Network. Pakistani intelligence officials told AFP that four "militants" were killed. The compound was "suspected of being a militants' hideout," according to Xinhua.

The exact target of the strike has not been disclosed. No senior Taliban or al Qaeda operatives have been reported killed in the strike.

Miramshah serves as the headquarters of the al Qaeda-linked Haqqani Network, a powerful Taliban subgroup that operates in both Afghanistan and Pakistan and is supported by Pakistan's military and its Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate. The Haqqani Network is one of four major Taliban groups that joined the Shura-e-Murakeba, an alliance brokered by al Qaeda late last year. The Shura-e-Murakeba also includes Hafiz Gul Bahadar's group; Mullah Nazir's group; and the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, which is led by Hakeemullah Mehsud and his deputy, Waliur Rehman Mehsud. The members of the Shura-e-Murakeba agreed to cease attacks against Pakistani security forces, refocus efforts against the US, and end kidnappings and other criminal activities in the tribal areas.

Today's strike took place just one day after the completion of a NATO conference on Afghanistan. the US had hoped that the Pakistani government would reopen NATO's supply lines, which have run through Pakistan in the past but have been shut down for six months. The Pakistani government has not made a decision on reopening the supply lines. Pakistan's parliament has demanded that the US end the drone strikes in the tribal areas as a condition for the reopening of the NATO supply lines that run through Pakistan into Afghanistan.

Read more:
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Nigeria: Four Killed As Bomb Explodes in Maiduguri

Maiduguri Four people were killed yesterday afternoon as a result of pandemonium at Lawan Bukar Ward in Maiduguri metropolis when an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) targeted at a military patrol vehicle exploded.

Residents said the bomb was thrown at a moving patrol vehicle and shortly thereafter, vehicles loaded with men of the Joint Task Force (JTF) mobilized to the scene and launched manhunt of the suspects.

An officer of the Nigerian Red Cross in Maiduguri who does not want to be quoted because he was not authorized to speak told newsmen that four people were killed during a gun duel and their corpses have been taken to a hospital.

"I am not in the position to tell you who and who died or how they died," the officer said, when asked whether the victims were military men or civilians. He did not also say whether they died as a result of the blast or where shot.

Our correspondent reports that hundreds of residents of Lawan Bukar and the adjoining Mafoni and Hausari area, all densely populated settlements fled from their residents even as some people alleged "brutalization" by the military operatives, who according to them cordoned off the area.

"As I am talking to you now, many houses are on fire and our wives and children are crying," Babagana Ari, a resident said.

But a press statement released by the spokesman of the JTF Lieutenant Colonel Sagir Musa which confirmed the blast indicated that it was the fire from the explosive device that ignited fire on houses in the area.

According to the statement, "At about 1330 hrs hours (1.30pm), a failed attempt was made to throw an IED at JTF troops on routine patrol in Maiduguri metropolis by suspected Boko Haram members. The IED missed the patrol team and exploded at Lawan Bukar Junction. "The explosion damaged some houses in the area. No casualty was recorded. The area has been cordoned off and search is going on at the moment with a view to apprehending the culprits. A suspect in a Honda Accord car, 'End of Discussion', navy blue has been arrested," the statement said.

from allAfrica
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May 23., 2012. - ISAF Joint Command Morning Operational Update

KABUL, Afghanistan - An Afghan-led security force supported by coalition troops detained a Taliban leader during an operation in Dasht-e Qal’ah district, Takhar province today.

He was the senior insurgent leader in neighboring Darqad district, and was responsible for planning attacks against Afghan government officials, Afghan National Security Forces and coalition troops throughout Darqad.

He also provided weapons, ammunition and explosive devices to insurgents under his command.

In other International Security Assistance Force news throughout Afghanistan:


In Nawah-ye Barakzai district, Helmand province today, an Afghan and coalition security force conducted an operation to detain an insurgent leader. The leader is responsible for roadside bombings and other attacks against Afghan and coalition troops in Marjeh and Nawa districts. He also supplies weapons and explosive devices to the insurgents under his command. During the operation, the security force also detained several suspected insurgents.


An Afghan-led security force supported by coalition forces detained a Haqqani leader during an operation in Khost district, Khost province today. The leader organized roadside bombings and other attacks against Afghan and coalition security forces throughout the Nadir Shah Kot and Manduzai districts. During the operation, the security force also detained one other insurgent.

In Nadir Shah Kot district, Khost province, an Afghan and coalition security force detained a Haqqani leader and explosives expert today. The leader conducted roadside bombings and other attacks against Afghan and coalition security forces throughout the district, and was responsible for the movement of explosive materials into Khost province. During the operation, the security force also detailed one other insurgent.

An Afghan and coalition security force conducted an operation to detain a Taliban leader in Khugyani district, Ghazni province today. The leader plans kidnappings and conducts attacks against Afghan and coalition security forces throughout the district and supplies local insurgents with weapons and equipment. As the security force left the Taliban leader’s suspected location, multiple insurgents engaged the Afghan and coalition troops. The security force verified there were no civilians in the area and requested a precision airstrike. The airstrike killed two armed insurgents without injuring any civilians or causing damage to civilian property. During the operation the security force also detained three suspected insurgents.

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13 rebels held, attack on USAID office foiled: NDS

(file photo)
KABUL (PAN): More than a dozen suspected militants have been detained by intelligence operatives in eastern Nangarhar and central Logar provinces, an official said on Tuesday.

Four rebels were arrested while trying to attack an office of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in Jalalabad, the National Directorate of Security (NDS) spokesman said.

Lotfullah Mashal told a news conference in Kabul two suicides vests, as many Kalashnikovs, 16 magazines, six hand grenades and two burqas were recovered from the detainees, identified as Zakaria, Zabihullah, Latifullah and Mahmoodul Haq, residents of Khost, Takhar and Nangarhar respectively.

Two of the detainees were students of Nangarhar University and a Peshawar-based private institute, Mashal said, adding the youth had been sent to Afghanistan by militant commanders Jafar and Qari Bilal for a suicide attack on the USAID office.

The detainees, who confessed to their crime in a video sent to Pajhwok Afghan News, received training from Uzbek and Pakistani militants in Jalalabad. However, were arrested ahead of reaching their target. 

Another suspect was held in Jalalabad on the charge of spying for Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), he said. The individual had confessed to receiving trainings from Sirajuddin Afridi, a Pakistani Taliban commander, and ISI officer Tariq. Mashal quoted the detainee as saying he had received 45,000 Pakistani rupees for cooperation with the ISI.

Two more rebels -- including a Pakistani, Sohail Khan, a resident of Mohmand Agency -- were detained in Nangarhar, the NDS official said. The Pakistani was directed by Qari Abdul Wali, a rebel commander, to conduct a suicide attack in the Marko Bazaar of Ghanikhel district.

Four other suspects were detained in central Logar province, according to Mashal, who said the individuals had been directed by Karim, alias Jahanzeb, and Qari Noor Khan, alias Maulana, to poison Afghan soldiers in Daudkhel area.

Two rebels -- tasked with conducting suicide attacks in the 3rd Macro Ryan residential area of Kabul -- were also detained in Logar. Mashal said the detainees had joined the Taliban movement in Mohammad Agha district.

from Pajhwok

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R.I.P. - Capt. Jesse A. Ozbat, 2nd Lt. Tobias C. Alexander

DOD Identifies Army Casualties

            The Department of Defense announced today the death of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

            They died May 20, in Tarin Kowt, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked their unit with an improvised explosive device.  They were assigned to the 168th Brigade Support Battalion, 214th Fires Brigade, Fort Sill, Okla.

            Killed were:

            Capt. Jesse A. Ozbat, 28, of, Prince George, Va., and

            2nd Lt. Tobias C. Alexander, 30, of Lawton, Okla.

            For more information the media may contact the Fort Sill public affairs office at 580-442-2521.

Capt. Jesse A. Ozbat
The Department of Defense announced the death of Army Capt. Jesse A. Ozbat, 28, of Prince George County on Monday night.

Ozbat, who was serving as a field artillery officer, and 2nd Lt. Tobias C. Alexander, 30, of Lawton, Oklahoma, died on Sunday in Tarin Kowt, Afghanistan, from wounds sustained when enemy forces attacked their unit with an improvised explosive device.

Both soldiers were assigned to the 168th Brigade Support Battalion, 214th Fires Brigade, Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and Security Force Advisory Teams responsible for the training and mentoring of Afghanistan's National Security Forces.

Keith Pannell with Fort Sill Public Affairs said he did not have any more specific details about the attack that claimed the two men's lives.

Ozbat graduated from Prince George High School in 2002 before attending Virginia State University. He graduated in 2006 with a B.S. in Mathematics before joining the Army as a 1st. Lt. in June, 2006, Pannell said.

Ozbat had been deployed for a 15 month overseas tour in 2009 and had been in Afghanistan for a month before he passed away, Pannell said. He did not know if the soldiers' remains had been returned to the United States.

Ozbat is survived by his wife, who Pannell said had requested no contact with the media.

2nd Lt. Tobias C. Alexander

LAWTON, Oklahoma -

Authorities say a soldier from Lawton was one of two soldiers killed in an attack in Afghanistan.

The Department of Defense announced Monday that 2nd Lt. Tobias C. Alexander of Lawton died from wounds he sustained after his unit was attacked by an improvised explosive device on Sunday.
He was 30 years old.

Capt. Jesse A. Ozbat, a 28-year-old Georgia native was also killed in the explosion. Both men were assigned to the 168th Brigade Support Battalion, 214th Fires Brigade at Fort Sill Army in Lawton.

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1 mine planter killed in Paktika province and 10 armed insurgents killed in Uruzgan and Paktiya provinces

Publish Date: May 22, 2012

One mine planter killed in Paktika province and 10 armed insurgents killed in Uruzgan and Paktiya provinces
As a result of conflict between Afghan National Police and armed insurgents, seven armed insurgents were killed.

The incident took place in the Dasht Gul Shah region, Sayed Karam District of Paktiya province, today at 08:00 Am.

Also, during this conflict, Afghan National Police confiscated one PKM machine gun and three AK-47 assault rifles.

In a separate incident, as a result of conflict between Afghan Local Police and armed insurgents, three armed insurgents were killed and one other was wounded.

The incident took place in the Sartangi region, Khas Uruzgan District of Uruzgan province, last night at 02:00 Am.

No Afghan Local Police member harmed in this incident.

Also, during this conflict, Afghan Local Police confiscated amount of light weapons.

In the meantime, one mine planter was killed by his own explosives while he attempted to plant roadside mine in the main road of Jani Khil and Khir Kot Districts of Paktika province, today at 05:30 Am.
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